What Happens if I Trip and Fall on a City Sidewalk?

A simple walk through your neighborhood could be dangerous if the sidewalks are not well-maintained.  Time and the elements inevitably take their toll on the sidewalks, resulting in cracks in the pavement.  Over time, tree roots may also start to break through the concrete leaving a dangerous condition. So, what happens if you trip on a city sidewalk and injure yourself?  You can file a suit against the city, but if can be a challenge.

Who is responsible for maintaining the sidewalks?

When it comes to liability for a poorly-maintained sidewalk, it depends on who owns the property.  If the sidewalk is on private property, but is meant for public use, then the owner of that property is responsible for its maintenance.  For instance, a sidewalk at a strip mall would be the responsibility of the strip mall owner.  However, sidewalks that are not adjoining private property are the responsibility of the government.

Limitations to a city’s duty in maintaining safe sidewalks

Cities and municipalities are under the same obligations and duties as a private citizen would be.  A public sidewalk must be maintained so as to be safe and free from dangerous conditions that may cause injury to a pedestrian. Yet, a city is not required to inspect every square foot, and guarantee there are no defects.  For this reason, the liability is somewhat limited.

A city must be on “notice” of a dangerous condition

Because of the limited liability, the general rules is that you must show a municipality has “actual or constructive notice” of the dangerous condition, before liability can be established. “Actual” notice is typically provided by a citizen’s written complaint. “Constructive” notice, on the other hand, exists when a dangerous condition is so obvious that the municipality should have had notice.

If you have questions regarding slip and fall injuries, or any other personal injury matter, please contact the experienced attorneys at Means Gillis Law, PC, either online or by calling toll free at (844) 870-1777.

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